Sources: Berry traded to Philadelphia

The 2012 MLS Rookie of the Year is on the move. Sources tell Fire Confidential that Austin Berry has been traded to the Philadelphia Union in exchange for allocation money. The trade announcement will be made pending league approval. The move presumably adds budget space which would enable the Fire to increase Mike Magee's salary over the next two years of his contract. The Daily Herald reported last night that Magee had begun to hold out of camp pending a renegotiation of his existing deal.

The acquisition of Jhon Kennedy Hurtado and Patrick Ianni last month created depth and competition at center back and it always seemed likely that something would go down in terms of a trade at some point. That point may have come sooner and under different circumstances than the Fire would have liked. Berry's age and salary in comparison to Bakary Soumare, Hurtado, and Ianni made him the Fire's most marketable commodity for a deal in MLS circles. According to MLSPU's latest report Berry earned $78,425.00 in guaranteed compensation last season and that certainly made him attractive to most MLS clubs.

While the amount of allocation received in exchange for Berry is likely to never be published, the Fire are at or near being "capped out" after acquiring Benji Joya and are still hoping to cut a loan deal for Tottenham midfielder Grant Ward. Increasing Magee's salary, signing Ward, and keeping Joya probably would not have been possible without trading an asset in exchange for allocation dollars. Berry would have netted the highest return and depth at center back made him the most sought after player available in a trade.

Frank Yallop and Brian Bliss can't be too happy with the timing of the hold out considering Magee has missed time away from the club due to UMSNT training camp and other commitments with a few days of training in Brandenton sandwiched in between. Although the Fire have not acknowledged the hold out, an ultimatum two weeks before the season starts is certainly the best possible negotiating period for Magee and his agent Richard Motzkin but it puts the club in the difficult position of having to do what they did today in order to keep Magee happy going forward. By the same token, Magee will now need to come close to the same success he had last year in order to justify the increase.

The deal to restructure Magee's contract, which has two years remaining after signing a new pact with Los Angeles last winter seems likely to be done now but it doesn't come without paying a price elsewhere. That price was the loss of a young defender with big potential.

Puppo gone

It's finally official. Federico Puppo and the Fire have mutually agreed to terminate his contract. This means a settlement was reached on the remaining year of his deal and the Fire now don't have to worry about Puppo's cost hitting the budget this season.


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  • I dont really understand trading away our young players that are already at a MLS level. First Anibaba and now Berry? It doesnt make sense to me. Berry was never the problem last season. It was Bakary's "I should play midfield" attitude. He dives into tackles and still thinks that kicking the ball as far as you can means that you are good. He should have been the one that moved on. Anibaba and Berry could have been starters for this club for 10+ years. They were both good enough and now they are both gone.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    All about the cap and working around it. The previous regime didn't do this one any favors in terms of flexibility.

  • Too bad the Fire didn't trade Anibaba for JUST Hurtado. I'd rather have Berry than Ianni, but something tells me Ianni was tacked on to make the deal better for Seattle.

    Hopefully Soumare and Hurtado (and Ianni) can cut it, because their salaries suck.

  • Brutal - but you have to keep Magic Mike happy. It's gotta be tough for him seeing all of the money getting thrown around in Toronto and Seattle. I'm sure he is still only getting a fraction of Dempsy or Bradley money. Hate to see Berry go but glad to see Magee get paid.

  • Could be a draft pick thrown in as well but haven't confirmed what round yet.

  • And here's the confirmed deal......Berry for allocation $ as reported here first. ;)

  • Philly's back line just got upgraded. Wow.
    In a way, this almost/kinda feels like a Shawn Francis-ish move, doing it b/c they have to, not b/c they want to.

    Episode 50 of the podcast is going to be very interesting. ;)

  • In reply to BrianC.:

    they send us soumare and his albatross salary, we send them berry and his youth and affordable salary. methinks philly won those two trades.

  • I expected this and think it is a rubbish move. We had our future centerbacks in Anibaba and Berry and now have older and much more expensive CB's. The union got the better of this deal by far.

  • Prior to the departure of FK and friends, I don't remember hearing anything about how they were setting up the Fire for future disasters like having to trade youth for age in order to meet cap requirements!!! Can someone enlighten me on what exactly Frank et al did.

  • In reply to shortpasses:

    I'm fairly certain we've talked about their cap issues on the site and on the podcast even before Yallop was hired.

  • Is Soumare on a guarenteed contract?? Would have rather cut him completely from the team without getting anything in return than to get rid of Berry. How many games has Berry missed the last 2 seasons? We are now expecting Hurtado and Soumare (and Ianni) not to have injury problems. This move stinks.

  • In reply to jtrevolt:

    Yes....they can ditch one contract now without penalty and that had to be Puppo. Philadelphia is picking up $150k of his salary this season as well.

  • So, as it stands, Anangono is the only DP currently on the roster with Puppo gone, correct? Not saying there is cap room for it, but theoretically, they could sign another DP or two because those spots are not open, right?

    What are the chances Magee's new contract puts him in DP territory? Also, even without Magee's new contract, will they be able to bring in any type of DP mid-season? It's times like these that I wish the league were more transparent with it's salary cap rules!

  • In reply to c0quito18:

    Anangono is currently the only DP but that could change with Magee's reworked deal. That would leave them one under the max.

    Signing a DP in July would likely mean some more juggling though.

  • Here's the 2014 Reserve League Schedule

    The Fire's looks like this:
    March 24 New York Red Bulls 11am Toyota Park practice field
    April 21 Rochester Rhinos 12n Toyota Park
    April 25 @Charlotte Eagles 7pm UNC Charlotte
    May 11 @New York Red Bulls 10am Red Bull training facility
    May 18 Richmond Kickers 530p Toyota Park
    June 21 @Wilmington 730p Legion Stadium
    Aug 17 @Montreal Impact 1030a Stade Saputo
    Aug 31 FC Dallas 11am Toyota Park practice field
    Sept 15 @FC Dallas 11am Toyota Stadium practice
    Oct 6 Montreal 11am Toyota Park practice field

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Are these games open to the public?

  • In reply to MisterH:

    Yes. It's a good chance to see the young players and reserves.

  • The move worked, no one is talking about the awful jersey now!

  • In reply to DerSting:

    Ha! I expect that will only serve as a temporary diversion.

  • I can't help but feel a bit upset with Magee on the timing of this. I get he's doing right by himself and he certainly deserves more pay considering his season last year. The timing was perfectly played on his and his agent's part....good for them. But did they put the quality of the team at jeopardy with doing this right now rather than at the start of the offseason or right after he won the MVP? Had they asked for more money at the beginning of the offseason, would Yallop been better prepared for this? Did Yallop know this was coming for sure? If so, was shipping out Berry and Anibaba for Ianni and Hurtado and their higher salaries + allocation simply 2 steps forward and 2 steps backwards? I'll obviously be happy if Magee is content and in the fold for the next couple of seasons, but I'm a bit unsure as to how I feel about these moves collectively. Will be interesting to see how this plays out, those are some pretty interesting moves taken together, and I wonder how much they've done besides just shifting players and salaries and numbers around. I guess knowing what sort of allocation was involved would help assess the trade, but alas...

  • In reply to Drew:

    The timing is brutal and a bit selfish but you can't fault him too much. It probably is his best chance at a bigger deal. That being said, Yallop should have seen this coming....I talked about here last November.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    I know, it's tricky. I can't fault him in one breath for trying to earn what he actually deserves. But if it, at the same time, takes the Fire down a notch, then that sucks.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    It's hard to say, though, what discussions went on before this. Clearly the pot was simmering with salary cap problems, and Magee's move just brought it to a boil. How receptive was the FO at the end of the season knowing changes were in order? Magee clearly wants to be in Chicago, but also wants to be paid market value. League MVP ups that value but if the salary cap is maxed out when you make your request then it's not going to happen.

    Personally I don't like Berry and Anibaba leaving but at least this stuff is happening BEFORE the season has begun (yeah I know there are limits on player movement after that) rather than looking for key pieces or having discontent later in the year.

  • This move does not make sense to me. If they need cap room, why not drop Soumare (unless his salary is guaranteed) or let one of the new more expensive CB from Seattle go. GR can you give us your take on the finances here? How does getting rid of the lowest salary of the 4 CBs on the roster help with the cap? How does allocation money play into this? Does allocation money really make that much of a difference?

  • In reply to Krasov:

    Allocation money plays a huge part in this. Essentially they are adding $80k plus whatever the allocation amount was back into their budget. That could theoretically be $200k or more. That would take care of Magee's cap hit and give them some flexibility to get Ward done.
    The Fire is paying $200k of Soumare's salary and they would have been hard pressed to find a team that would have been able to pay that and give them allocation in return. Berry was the most marketable asset from a position of surplus and would have gotten the most in return. We covered this in the last podcast one month ago, and that's the way it played out.
    They can't just drop Soumare either. Teams can buy out one contract each offseason without taking a cap hit and that was reserved for whatever they had to do to get rid of Puppo.
    Bottom line is Yallop felt the defense needed to improve and he is right in that respect. The defense was terrible last year. Anibaba wasn't a right back and he feels the Soumare/Hurtado pairing will be better than Soumare/Berry.
    It's a gamble but that's why Yallop was brought in. At least we know who's in charge and making those decisions now.

  • Why pick up Iaani who is more expensive than Berry, has less upside, is prone to injury, and in my view is not as talented as Berry? The Magee demand could easily have been met without that trade.
    Duka at $230,000 is overpaid by MLS standards. Berry was a bargain. I'm sick of the Fire being taken in every deal. They got lucky with the Magee trade, nothing more. I would rather have not resigned Pause or Barouch, or Kinney, or several others. Color me pissed.

  • In reply to Celt:

    Baourch and Kinney make less than $50k so they would be off-budget players that don't count against the cap. Simply not re-signing Pause wouldn't have given them enough space to do what they had to do.....Berry was the player that was going to get them the most in return in terms of allocation.
    The logic in adding Ianni at $150k can be questioned for sure though. Yallop will have to live with that one but it was pretty obvious to me that he rated Soumare, Hurtado, and Ianni ahead of Berry on the CB depth chart.

  • According to Alexi Lalas, the allocation amount received for Berry was $100,000.

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Wow, that's it!? Count me in the camp that hates this trade. I can't believe that's all we could get for a young, underpaid, rookie of the year (who admittedly took a step back last year), who's played every minute from the past two seasons. Just wow.

    Also count me in the camp that is just so so on the anibaba trade. We took back too much salary in that trade that has even more so messed w our budget.

  • fb_avatar

    Peanuts. Austin Berry was worth more than $100K allocation. MLS cap rules are more confusing than any other sport. I can't wait to explain this one to my kid.

  • In reply to waam:

    You will need a Rosetta Stone.

  • First round draft pick Marco Franco has been officially signed to a contract

  • In reply to Guillermo Rivera:

    Looking forward to seeing how he matches up this season. From what little I've seen of preseason, he seems to have promise.

  • The more I think about this trade, the more it bothers me. We shouldnt have resigned Pause if it meant all this cap problems. There is no way Logan is less than 100k with what he was making before. Thats 100k sitting on the bench, if he even makes the 18. I cant see him ever being on the field this season. We have traded away our future in Berry and Anibaba for 2 older, injury prone, and have huge contract players. It doesnt make any sense. I would have rather had Berry and Anibaba for the next 10 years than have Jhon and Ianni for the next 2. Our problem in the back was not Austin Berry. It was Bakary Soumare not playing his position. This move gets worse with each passing day...

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:


  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    That's the thing that gets me as well, the fact that we had a proven starter in a younger player at a good price. By trading him away, it set up a future need that needs to be met, where prior, not so much. Truth be told, it may become a non-issue. Time will certainly tell.

    The loss does sting, though. When I get an autograph from Mike Magee at the luncheon, there might be that little part of me that wants to say, "You kinda prompted this, you know." Not that I would, but, still.

  • In reply to Rubberbandman189:

    I essentially repeated this above before I read all the way down and read your earlier post. You said it better and I agree with every word. The team will be improved this season but that will not negate this bad trade. I suspect Seattle made Ianni essential to the trade. Anibaba is a fine athlete and was never played in his true position. I hope he and Berry become all-stars.

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    Still not happy about this trade.

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